Most writers begin blogging to encourage people with words of hope or expert advice. And while they develop content, they wonder how to build a profitable blog. The mission to help others and lead them into a more fulfilling life is beautiful. And the world needs bloggers to persevere!
But is it possible to build a profitable blog and grow a writer’s platform without cheating your mission?
In the early stages of your blogging journey, you likely researched questions like. . .
- How do I start a blog with no experience?
- How do I grow traffic to my blog?
- How do bloggers get paid?
And every article you read pointed you to search engine optimization. They mentioned “long-tail keyword,” “alt text,” “meta description” and other unfamiliar terms.
SEO techniques are key to starting and growing your blog, there’s no question about that. The problem is, they can easily pull your focus away from why you started your blog in the first place. But striving for higher search rankings doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your purpose for writing.
This post contains affiliate links which means I may be compensated for products you purchase.
Bloggers in the faith-based sphere want to reach into the lives of their readers. Sometimes they feel as if they must trade SEO strategies to stay true to God’s prompting.
Or, if they focus on building traffic, some become so fixated that they forsake the heart behind their mission.
To Build a Profitable Blog: Balance Technology With Human Heart
It takes careful balance. Bloggers can become so riveted in stuffing keywords into their message they lose sight of helping people. Algorithms begin to overtake the relational side of your blog. It’s a common struggle.
We shouldn’t have to cheat our mission to attract readers and website visitors. There is a way to balance technology with heart, and statistical data with real people. That’s why I’ve created the 360° Blogging System. It helps faith-based writers grow a strong platform and build a profitable blog without cheating their mission.
The 8 principles of The 360°Blogging System work together in a simple process.
- Discover your ideal reader and write specifically for her
- Implement the framework of the 360°Blogging System
- Make money from your blog
Why Should You Build a Profitable Blog?
Before we dive into the 360° Blogging System, let’s look at why writers should monetize their blogs. The reasons seem obvious, yet bloggers often struggle with the idea of making money from ministry. It begins to feel selfish, but it shouldn’t.
The truth is, a worker is worthy of their wages (see Luke 10:7). There are expenses involved with publishing and maintaining a blog. In fact, it can be rather expensive. It’s hard to justify the expense when they see little or no return.
But generating an income can sustain a ministry. It can support you as you fulfill your mission and reach the people God calls you to reach. When it becomes profitable, a blog can bless many more people, including your family, and help you live a more generous lifestyle. It’s not a selfish endeavor at all.
Using The 360° Blogging System to Build a Profitable Blog
The 360° Blogging System will equip you to cover every angle of writing and promoting your blog. It will help you attract more readers and help more people overcome a problem. It’s a way to balance search engine optimization with storytelling to connect with the hearts and minds of your readers.
Think of the 360° Blogging System as
- reaching into the lives of your readers to help them overcome a problem
- while intentionally attracting the people who need you most.
There are 8 principles, broken down into the acronym P.L.A.T.F.O.R.M. They equip you to monetize your blog and reach into the lives of your readers.
P: Person with a problem
L: Lead to Transformation
A: Announce Your Plan
T: Tell Your Story
F: Funnel Your Leads
O: Offer Your Solution
R: Reach Your Audience
M: Market Your Content
I’ll break it down here:
P – Person with a Problem
The first step, as any blogging guru will tell you, is knowing who you’re writing for. It’s identifying your ideal reader and then meeting her where she is. Most instructors will tell you that you must know and identify all the details like
- her age,
- familial status,
- shopping habits,
- entertainment preferences,
- what she drives,
- what she wears,
- and even what she eats.
But keep in mind: Your ideal reader is more than a demographic. To genuinely appeal to her, you must see her as a real person who experiences real problems. You must reach into her life. That means you have to know far more than her behaviors, you must know her feelings.
Questions to consider about your ideal reader
As a writer, you must get to the very core of her pain points, and consider questions such as:
- What does she struggle with?
- Are there concerns that keep her up at night?
- As she delivers her kids to school, what is on her mind?
- Did she argue with her husband last night? What about?
- What makes her feel confident?
- Which situations spur her self-doubt?
- Who does she want to become as she matures?
- Are there regrets that she carries?
One effective exercise is to mentally follow your reader through an entire day. Ray Edwards, Communication Strategist and Creator of The Copywriting Academy recommends imagining you’re walking through each step of your ideal reader’s day.
Does she have a hard time waking up in the morning?
Is coffee or water her first sip of the day?
What is her first activity–reading, moving, or tending to the needs of her toddler?
What does she think about as she makes breakfast?
How does she feel as she readies for her day?
What injustices is she most passionate about and how do they propel her toward change?
To Build a Profitable Blog, Become Familiar With the Wants and Needs of Your Reader
Following your reader through an imaginary 24-hour period will make you familiar with her wants and needs. You’ll understand her pain points on a deeper level. And you’ll begin to discern the encouragement she needs to overcome them.
Next, you’ll want to make notes about the life she has now compared to the life she’s aspiring toward. Discover the things that stand in her way, then get to the root of how that makes her feel.
Once you know your reader’s private struggles, you must earn her trust before you can lead her to the transformation she desires.
L – Lead to Transformation
Building trust requires consistent investment in showing empathy and authority. You now know where your reader feels frustrated, vulnerable, and exhausted. Through your words as a writer, show her that you understand how she feels. It’s easier to build trust with an understanding friend than with a stranger who knows nothing about your thoughts and feelings. This is as true for your reader as it is for you and me.
Show how you’ve dealt with similar challenges and how you’ve overcome them. Empathize with your ideal reader as if she were the only one reading your post, website copy, or ad. Then, help her see why you’re exactly the right one to help her navigate her struggles. Detail why your particular expertise will be so beneficial to her.
We all want to be someone better than we are today. We all seek transformation but don’t want to go it alone. Earning the trust of your reader is as if you reach for her hand and walk alongside her through her struggles.
Showing Succesful Outcomes
This is the very point in your reader’s journey where you can begin to paint the picture of her future success. Paint it so vividly that she can imagine it in high definition, from the way it looks and smells to the way it feels. She’ll envision herself achieving the transformation she’s always wanted.
Here is a crucial point to remember as you build a profitable blog: Your reader is drawn to success, but avoiding failure is an even more powerful motivator. That’s why you must also show the unavoidable consequences of not engaging with your offer.
In what ways will her pain points continue to disrupt her life if she chooses not to do business with you? What negative thoughts will continue to fill her mind? If she chooses to remain stuck, what unpleasant emotions will she keep experiencing?
Once you’ve shown her the transformation she can achieve, you now need to show her the path to reach it.
A – Announce Your Plan
No one wants to wander around the wilderness without knowing where they’re headed. They want to follow someone who offers a clear plan that they can track. Why? Because they want to know their invested time will lead to progress. They want to be certain they’re on the most efficient route to success.
When announcing a plan of action consider breaking that plan into three simple steps. Donald Miller, author of Building a Storybrand emphasizes this point often.
Our brains naturally understand patterns of three. Many scholars believe this is a divine imprint. They point to the character of our triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Or patterns of three seen in nature (sun, moon, stars; mind, body, spirit; animal, vegetable, mineral). They are most often seen as harmonious, and good.
Our brains receive sets of three as complete and well-ordered. That’s why 3-step plans are so effective: they offer a simple solution in a logical pattern. Our minds crave simplicity. In an online environment that is so overwhelming, it’s comforting to see a simple three-step plan.
Include a Clear Call to Action
Embedded into your three-step plan should be a clear call to action. People will not move toward action unless guided to do so. So every piece of marketing content should move our readers toward the goal.
Announcing your plan shows readers you know the way to success. It proves you won’t leave them wandering aimlessly. They’ll want to follow you toward the success you offer.
With a plan in place, now’s the time to tell your story.
T – Tell Your Story
For some, it can feel awkward to talk about yourself. Conversely, some talk too much. They never stop portraying themselves as the hero of their business story. Either approach is extreme. There’s a way to tell a story about yourself while focusing on your customer.
The 8 sections of the 360° Blogging system started with a person who’s experiencing a problem. Your story should start in the same place. It begins with the problem your customers face.
When we identify our customers’ problems—even when telling our own story—it grabs their attention. It helps readers know we understand what they’re facing.
Next, we’ll walk through several intriguing ways to tell your story.
1. Elevator Pitch
Every blogger needs a way to begin conversations without feeling awkward. One way is to have a concise elevator pitch memorized.
The purpose of an elevator pitch is to serve as an entry point into longer conversations. It’s a way of telling your story in its shortest form (in 15 to 30 seconds, for example). With the right formula, your elevator pitch will grab the attention of your listener. It will stir curiosity, and enlighten them about your brand.
An elevator pitch is most commonly used when someone asks, “what do you do?” Whether at a backyard barbeque, a chamber of commerce luncheon, or a group zoom call, you can introduce yourself in a memorable and engaging way.
Use this effective three-step formula:
First – start with the problem your customers face.
Second – share the solution you offer.
Third – show the benefit of engaging with your brand.
Here’s an example:
The problem: It’s hard to grow a business on your own.
The solution: I coach writers and entrepreneurs in 6 key areas
The benefit: so they can expand their audience and grow the business of their dreams.
By starting with the problem, you will prick the ears of your listener. Your words will resonate as they envision themself — or someone they know— having the same problem. Then you quickly offer hope by sharing a solution and helping them imagine their own success.
You can see how natural it will be to move into a more meaningful conversation. Once you’ve made a connection it will be easy to exchange contact information for a follow-up chat.
2. Brand Narrative
It’s helpful to also have a brand narrative prepared for your blog or business. This is a longer version of your story, something that’s about 60-90 seconds in length. Use it in. . .
- a video introduction for your brand,
- podcast interviews,
- author bios,
- social media posts,
- and other times when you need an introduction that’s packed with information.
A Real-Life Example of a Brand Narrative
As you’ll see in the example below, even the narrative about your brand is really about your customer.
Like most bloggers, you want a vibrant following and would love to make money through your website. Your journey didn’t start there. You simply wanted to encourage people with your words.
The problem is, blogging isn’t cheap and you quickly saw the need to offset your costs. You hate the idea of self-promotion and feel the tension of cheating your mission for the sake of attracting readers and website visitors.
I understand and I’ve been there too. That’s why I’ve created the 360° Blogging System. It helps faith-based writers grow their platform and monetize their blogs without sacrificing their mission to help and encourage others.
Here’s how it works:
- Join my coaching program. There you’ll learn the 360° Blogging System. You’ll discover how to market well while keeping the needs of your readers in constant focus.
- Apply the principles. Then you’ll achieve a healthy balance between reader statistics and the hearts and minds of real people who need your help. Through coaching, you’ll have the 1 on 1 focus to move your business forward.
- Feel great about generating income with your blog. Knowing you haven’t cheated your mission to build a profitable blog feels incredible!
Achieving higher search rankings and more website visitors shouldn’t come at the cost of fulfilling your purpose. You can grow your audience and generate income to bless your family and live more generously. All while feeling great about helping the people you are called to serve.
Schedule a free consultation today and begin to reach more people who need your help. In the meantime, grab your free Online Marketing Starter Guide and use it to build some great momentum in your blog traffic.
A Brand Narrative Framework
There’s a simple framework to writing a brand narrative:
Inside your brand narrative, begin with the transformation your customer wants to achieve and the problem that stands in their way.
Any time you present a pain point that your potential customers are feeling, don’t stop by simply identifying the problem. Go a step further and show them you understand how it makes them feel.
Then, introduce your unique solution, share how it works by listing your three-step plan, and paint a picture of success for the people in your niche.
3. Your Website
Your story comes into clear focus on your website. But as you develop your website copy, it’s crucial that you continue to keep your emphasis on your potential customers. I’ve touched on several elements of storytelling in this article; sprinkle them liberally throughout your website:
- A Transformation your customers want to achieve
- The problem that stands in the way of achieving that transformation
- How the obstacles make them feel
- The injustice they encounter by missing out
- Your solution, outlined in a 3-step plan
- How your expertise can lead them to success
- How their success will look and feel
- The failure you help your customers avoid when they come to you for help
There are other critical factors to address on your website, especially if you want to see people take action on your site. You have only a few seconds to grab the attention of your website visitors. So in your header section (the very first portion of the page they see), you’ll want to clearly state. . .
- What you offer
- How your offer will make their life better
- How to purchase or engage
Once you think you have your header section right, ask a friend if they can see the answers to these three questions immediately. If they can’t, keep working.
Websites Examples with Clear Messaging
Here are a few website examples with clear, compelling messages:
An educational site: www.thetalkmadesimple.com
A local election page: www.bringmacback.com
A coaching/service site: www.cathymcintosh.com
A Marketing Consultant: www.cornishmarketing.co.uk
By adding story elements to your marketing, you’re using a narrative to communicate a message. But remember, you want to tell the story of your customer’s transformation and how they achieve the success they want. You’ll make consumers feel something and inspire them to take action—that’s what makes it so effective.
Then you’re ready to set up your sales funnel, and it’s easier than you think.
F – Funnel Your Leads
A sales funnel is the journey your customers take from introduction to purchase. The goal is to introduce a wide number of potential customers at the beginning of the process. Only those who will benefit from your offer make it to the narrow end of the funnel and into your customer journey.
When you write a blog and optimize it for SEO, you introduce a world of readers to your content. Your content is valuable. But don’t miss the chance to invite them to take the next step. If you do, they may never visit your website again or make a decision to buy from you.
A sales funnel creates the perfect opportunity for your readers to hear more from you. Start by offering them something irresistible for which they’ll trade their email address. This is called a lead generator (or lead magnet, opt-in, or giveaway).
How Funnels Work to Build a Profitable Blog
You offer the lead magnet in exchange for your customer’s email. Then, you continue to connect with the new lead via their email inbox. That’s where you consistently provide value to your readers. It’s where you’ll remind them that your brand offers exactly what they need.
Most customers don’t buy during their first visit to your website. Follow-up through email will help them develop trust with your brand. Then, when they’re ready to buy, you’ll be the first brand that comes to mind.
Years ago, I traded my email address for a freebie provided by a Christian blogger. She emails me once a week and through those emails I receive encouragement and tips for Bible study. When it’s time to buy a study for a small group, I often check her website first.
Because I have received her emails for a few years now, I won’t forget who she is or what she provides to her readers. When I’m ready to buy, I know where to find her.
A similar system will make sure your customers don’t forget you. As my friend, Belinda Shipp says, it will also make sure they know you haven’t forgotten about them.
Now that you’ve led them through the customer journey, it’s time to make an offer.
O – Offer Your Solution
When you niche your audience, you cater your offer to people who struggle with the problem you solve.
When potential customers accept your opt-in they are “warm.” You’ve qualified them as your ideal customers. Remember, it’s better to have a few warm leads than thousands of subscribers who don’t need what you offer.
But how do you transition from writing about your solution to offering it for sale?
By developing a product or service that you know your customers want.
This is where the rubber meets the road and where you can generate income through your blog. You’ve shared help and encouragement through your posts. Now, put all of that together in a different way and add a price tag. Voila! You’ve offered your first product.
Developing A Product or Service
There are multiple ways to build a profitable blog. You can make money through advertising networks, paid ad placements, or affiliate marketing. But, offering a product or service is by far my favorite. That’s because. . .
- It’s not necessary to wait for hundreds or thousands of visitors to your website before you see money in your bank account
- You are in complete control of your business from start to finish
- Earning what you’re worth feels incredible
- Helping people on a personal level is why you started your blog in the first place
- Of all the ways bloggers make money, offering a product or service is the most relational
And, you can be as creative as you’d like with your offer. Some examples of products or services might include. . .
- Book sales
- Coaching services
- Done-for-you services
- And so much more!
Before you create your offer, research what other bloggers in your niche are offering, then tweak it to match your own gifts, talents, and personality. Have fun with it!
R – Reach Your Audience
The PLATFORM principles aren’t perfectly linear. Many pieces work together or intersect at different points, but all work together as you build a profitable blog.
Reaching your audience begins to feel easy and natural only after you’ve invested in compelling content. You do that by walking through the PLATFORM framework.
To build a profitable blog, you must appeal to the hearts and minds of your readers and help them overcome a specific problem. You’ll attract them through your empathy and by showing you’ve walked in their shoes. When you are a few steps ahead in the process, you can lead others to success. Outlining a simple plan will help earn their trust and confidence, then help them envision their life with the successful outcomes you offer.
A Clear Message Comes First When You Build a Profitable Blog
Adding Search Engine Optimization should come only after writing a clear message. You want to reach your reader’s heart first.
I often talk with clients who reverse the process. They start with targeting website visitors before refining their message. Some crush their blog traffic goals. They reach huge traffic numbers (30,000 website views or more per month), yet they don’t generate the sales they want. They may be able to gain enough traction for advertising revenue, but find it’s inconsistent.
This is often a case of putting quantity over quality. They’re targeting readers, but they’re not attracting their ideal readers. Masses of people find their website, but not the customers they’re uniquely qualified to help.
That’s what makes the 360° Blogging system so powerful. It’s a healthy balance of appealing to the hearts of the people you’re called to serve. It equips you to grow a profitable blog without cheating your mission. It helps you appeal to the hearts and minds of your readers then implement simple SEO practices (I talk more about those practices in this article) to reach a wider audience and grow your traffic.
Some argue that adding SEO doesn’t leave room for Holy Spirit inspiration. But by using simple SEO tools, you can attract readers, share polished writing, AND follow spiritual promptings. The key is not allowing SEO practices to overshadow the focus of your mission.
What About Using Paid Traffic To Build a Profitable Blog?
Paid traffic deserves a similar approach. Without focusing on your ideal reader, you waste money and grow the wrong audience. They come to your website but don’t need your help or your services.
Focus on quality first. Then you will build a solid foundation of readers who are loyal, engaged, and eager to buy what you offer. They’ll even share it with others. It can take more time, but the results are more reliable and consistent. They’ll help you build a profitable blog.
Now you’re reached more people. It’s time for the last stage—marketing your content.
M – Market Your Content to Build a Profitable Blog
Social media is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the word out about all you offer. That includes your blog and the products and services you provide to customers. Good social media marketing is a key focus when trying to build a profitable blog.
Most of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “perform well” on social media. That’s when it starts to feel completely overwhelming. Like many, you may struggle with. . .
- The pressure of finding the right things to say
- Finding interesting images or creating attractive graphics
- Trying to think of clever responses when your followers comment
- Feeling like an absolute failure when they don’t
Writers believe social media success means having a massive audience of loyal followers.
That’s not success at all.
In fact, a small audience can bring more engagement and sales. When followers need what you offer and trust you to provide it, they will drive your business forward.
There is one primary goal for your social media presence, and it’s not what you think.
It’s to help ideal prospects know, like, and trust you. Through social media, you’ll help them know who you are, discover what they like, and trust that you’re on their side.
I like to offer my clients 3 simple steps to finally make social media feel easy.
1. Keep it clear and simple
We’ve walked through a lot of different ways to create a clear message in this post. Think of each element as its own “bucket.” Then draw from each bucket as you create your content strategy.
Once again, the message elements are:
- Your ideal customer—a real person with a problem that causes pain
- The transformation your ideal customer wants to achieve
- How your customer feels when she’s stuck in the process
- The injustice your customer senses
- How you are uniquely qualified to help her achieve transformation
- The plan that you offer to help your customer find success
- The next step you want your customer to take in order to engage with your blog, product, or service
- How your customer’s life will look when she begins to see positive results
- The failure you’re helping your customer avoid by leading her in a positive direction
There are nine different buckets of information right there. If you post one time per day, 5 days a week, you’d need about 20 posts each month. It should feel fairly easy to create 2 posts from each bucket. With that, you almost fill your content calendar, and can repeat the process month after month.
Sprinkle in a few customer testimonials. Then add relatable stories, and you’ve hit your social media content out of the park!
2. Trust a 3:1 ratio for your posts
Consider grouping your posts into 2 categories: The “Add” and The “Ask”.
The “Add” category adds value to your followers. Share HOW they can overcome a problem that arises from each of the “buckets” above. For example,
You know they face a problem. How can overcome that problem today?
You understand the transformation she seeks, how can she take a step closer?
The path to success may feel complicated, but show her how to simplify it.
(Each post should have a call to action where you explain exactly what to do next.)
The “Ask” category includes posts where you ask for your customer’s participation.
Ask her to visit your website and read your latest (or most popular) blog post
Invite her to download your opt-in or lead generator
Ask her to purchase your product or service and remind her why she needs it.
The 3:1 ratio, then, would be 3 “Adds” to 1 “Ask”.
Add, Add, Add, Ask.
3. Use engagement to lead to a decision
Once you start to market your content and captivate your audience, you’ll start to see your engagement naturally increase. People will comment more often. They’ll begin to share your posts with others.
The last thing you want to do is ghost them.
Stay involved with your engaged followers. Turn on notifications then let them know you see their comments and reply to each one. The best way to keep the conversation going is to ask a question. Even if they don’t circle back and respond, they’ll see you as someone who has taken an interest and cares about them.
How to Engage on Social Media
Below is an example of engaging with your social media followers:
Post Caption: When you’re trying to learn something new, it’s hard not to expect perfection. I get it. But I’ve discovered something that helps. Before each tennis lesson, I remind myself that I’m here to have fun and get a little exercise. The only one I need to be better than is the player I was last week.
Comment from Karen: Oh that’s such a great reminder. I expect sooooo much out of myself and need to lighten up!
Your Reply: I think we all do, Karen! What new skill are you trying to learn right now?
By asking a question, you’ve shown Karen that you’re interested in her journey and invited her to share more. She may reply, or she may not. But you treated her just as if you were in a face-to-face conversation with her, and want to learn more about her experience.
Karen may take the conversation to the next step and say: I’m taking my first Bible study right now and I have to say, I feel like I’m in way over my head!
Don’t Stop There . . .
You then have an amazing opening to lead her to a decision. Consider sending her a Direct Message and say something like:
Karen, I appreciated your comments on my post this morning. I understand how overwhelming Bible study can be at first. It gets easier, I promise, so hang in there! You might be interested in a blog post I wrote a few months ago about some of my favorite Bible study tools. I’ll share a link here just in case you’d like to take a look. Either way, please stay in touch. I’d love to hear how the study goes for you!
Every step of the 360º Blogging System leads you to build a profitable blog. It keeps the hearts and minds of your readers as the priority then moves into SEO practices and marketing strategies. Suddenly, building a profitable blog feels simple.
The Simplicity of Building a Profitable Blog
When you build a profitable blog using the 360º Blogging System, you’ll realize it’s a little like playing with blocks as a kid. You can build a tall tower as long as your foundation is strong. Putting the right blocks in place at the right time and in the right order will bring success.
The 360° Blogging System involves small, simple steps that work together to accomplish great things. By focusing on the needs of your reader, you can grow your platform and create a profitable business. All without forsaking your purpose.
The time investment is worth it. The 8 principles of the 360° Blogging System work together in a simple process. I invite you to schedule a free consultation. I’m taking a limited number of new clients so don’t delay. Let’s dive into the 360º Blogging System together so you can build a profitable blog:
- Discover your ideal reader and write specifically for her
- Implement the framework of the 360°Blogging System
- Make money from your blog
When you know you’re true to your mission and can generate income through your blog, you can sustain your ministry and help more people. Faith-forward bloggers needn’t hesitate to build a profitable blog knowing they can follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit while implementing SEO to achieve a higher reach. Both are possible with careful balance. The 360º Blogging System helps ensure it.